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Do you know your daily/weekly grocery shopping is a major determinant of your family's health? Grocery shopping is not just about buying food supplies but making healthy buying choices; choices that will instill good food discipline, provide your family nutritious meals and at times save you some money.

The lure of the neatly stacked canned food items, ready to eat meals, processed and packaged snacks on the racks of our malls and grocery stores is difficult to evade. The convenience of these items, the influence of advertising, attractive packaging often tempts us to fill our shopping basket with these new age foods. While the benefits of some of these foods cannot be overruled, at little caution is needed when buying these items. Several packaged food items such as chips, soups, ready to eat noodles etc. contain high-level of undesirable preservatives, flavors and additives. The common in this list are MSG, sodium, salt and trans fats. Reading food labels is therefore the most important step in buying healthy. If the label mentions too much salt, refined sugar or high level of artificial colors, preservatives, it's best to leave the product on the shelf. Avoiding such items can not only protect your health but also reduce your grocery bill.

You can judge the health quotient of packaged item by studying the nutrition information given on the label. Though in India it is not mandatory to list nutrition facts on packaged foods, most branded packaged foods give nutrition information on the package. Check the serving size, servings per container, and the major nutrients per serving. The nutrition information on the package generally applies to one serving size. So, if for one 200 gms package of namkeen, one serving size in 50 gms and calories per serving are 50, then you are actually consuming 200 calories with one pack of namkeen. Judge for yourself if this is good for you. By reading labels you can compare different foods to see how they differ in fat, calories, protein, and other ingredients. Choose food items that are high in fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients and avoid those that are high in calories, trans fats, sodium and sugar.

When it comes to grains and breads, choose the whole grain varieties. Opt for unpolished rice for your daily cooking and reserve Basmati for once in a while special dishes. Grains with husk on are far more nutritious than the polished ones. If you are buying readymade atta choose the one that is whole wheat and does not have maida added. Similarly, in case of breads choose brown breads (whole meal breads) over white bread.

Buy locally produced fruits and vegetables that are in season as they are fresh, cheaper and comparatively chemical free. Usually fruits and vegetables that travel a long distance to reach the market tend to be chemically treated to keep them in a good condition. Also, many a times fruits are artificially ripened to make them available round the year. Buying local and seasonal is your best bet. It is better to buy whole rather than cut veggies and fruits, as they are likely to lose valuable vitamin C due to oxidation.

When buying frozen fruits and vegetables select those that have minimum or no preservatives. While, in case of most of veggies it is better to buy them fresh, peas, tomatoes and cauliflower can be exceptions. Frozen peas have 60% more carotene than fresh ones. Anthocyanins in cauliflower and lycopene in tomatoes are better preserved when frozen.

The simple rule to healthy buying is whether you are conforming to the guidelines of the food pyramid. According to the food pyramid, a significant portion of your daily diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Naturally, the same should be reflected in your shopping.

Last but not the least, make sure you check the expiry date of packaged items you buy. What you buy at your grocery shop or super market determines what you will cook. Unhealthy choices when buying means unhealthy meals and snacks at home. So shop wisely and boost your health.


  • Avoid buying food items that have too many preservatives and artificial flavors. The rule is, if you can't pronounce most of the ingredients in a food item, don't buy it.
  • Read and understand food labels.
  • Fruits, vegetables and whole grain products should be the main items on your shopping list.
  • Replace aerated drinks with fruits juices. When buying fruit juices opt for those that have above 90% real fruit.
  • If your store is at a reasonable distance from your house, walk the distance one way (that would have to be when you go to the store, for obvious reason).

Health Initiative from KS Oils